Blog / Two Ways that Fast Food Companies Are Winning on Social Media Topics  

Two Ways that Fast Food Companies Are Winning on Social Media

The fast food industry has cropped up as a vocal bunch in the social media space.

Some restaurants have earned success through expertly crafted social media campaigns, while others have achieved it by community service.

For the past several weeks we’ve monitored two major brands in the fast food industry as part of our ongoing effort to analyze trends, moments, and influencers that shape the social media landscape. More specifically, we analyzed vastly different moments that ignited social activity for Taco Bell and Chick-fil-A.

social media conversation volume taco bell and chik-fil-a

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1. Taco Bell — Mastering Social Campaigns

As displayed in the chart above, Taco Bell is the undisputed winner over the two-week period we monitored, reaping in a 60% share of social activity in a pool of 200,000+ social conversations compared to Chick-fil-A. But what caused these spikes?

As noted on Sports Business Daily, Taco Bell launched a multi-channel marketing campaign during the NBA Finals.  The premise was simple, yet powerful. If a road team won a game, customers could redeem one free taco by simply asking for a “free taco.” It’s brilliant. Who eats just one taco? During our lunch breaks, I’ve seen my fellow Zoomphers eat more than seven in one sitting. Now, back to the analysis.

Earlier this year, we saw Esurance use hashtags as the entry mechanism tied to their Super Bowl sweepstakes. By contrast, Taco Bell used hashtag promotions to create viral buzz. It was a slam dunk! Hashtags and emojis became the centerpiece of their ads – attracting lots of excitement, and online engagement, around their brand. “Redemption Day. Rally your friends to get behind a free taco…with #STEALATACO.”


taco bell redemption day campaign

With more than 11,400 uses of taco, Taco Bell dominated emoji usage during our two-week study. This single taco emoji got more usage than all of Chick-fil-A’s. We saw equally impressive stats for usage of #doritoslocotacos and #stealataco. The NBA even got a lift with #NBAFinals, which appeared as a top five hashtag associated with Taco Bell. Talk about a win-win-win for Taco Bell, the NBA, and anyone who received a free taco.

taco bell and chick fil a top emojis

Taco Bell’s approach was not only well executed, but it gave their marketing department and agency a way to track ROI of their online marketing efforts via increased sales, hashtag, and emoji usage.

2. Chick-fil-A’s Core Values in Action

This past year has been marred by several horrifying and sad events – among them, the death of a musical legend. I won’t go into details, but many companies were criticized about how they promoted their brand via social media by a forced connection to Prince.

But what does this have to do with Chick-fil-A? Let’s start with their values.

“Nearly every moment of every day we have the opportunity to give something to someone else – our time, our love, our resources. I have always found more joy in giving when I did not expect anything in return.” Truett Cathy, Founder of Chick-fil-A

Now, recall June 12th, when the worst mass shooting in American history occurred inside an Orlando nightclub. Though typically closed on Sundays, an Orlando Chick-fil-A franchise sprung to action, opened their store, and served food to locals donating blood to victims of the shooting.

While Chick-fil-A had been previously criticized for their faith-based stance on social issues, they wowed onlookers with this act of generosity, which remained rooted in their core values. Their authentic actions were noted by many, some of whom expressed their gratitude towards Chick-fil-A online. Here are the most influential social media posts covering Chick-fil-A’s actions.

Top influential social media posts about Chick-fil-A


Strategy vs. Recognition

While vastly different events, both cases demonstrate how social media shapes a business and its company story.

Taco Bell designed and implemented a superb campaign that resonated with customers, and rewarded them for their loyalty. As a result, their franchise owners enjoyed increased traffic and #TacoSales.

On the other hand, Chick-fil-A elevated the sentiment around their brand by modeling how to “give something to someone else.” Chick-fil-A’s corporate values connected a local franchise to a tragic event, and their authentic actions were widely praised by the online community.

While one company launched a deliberate (and successful) social media campaign, the other netted success by living out its cultural values. We’re not here to argue that one tactic is better than the other – we’re simply here to remind that we could all learn a little something from observing these two admirable companies at work.

Click here to start a demo trial and begin monitoring your brand’s online performance today!


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Monitoring & Tracking

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